Sunday, February 3, 2008

GREGG SPENCE, 3 songs (cassette, unofficial, 1989)

There's little I can say about Gregg that I didn't already say in THE UNDERDOGS post, or that you can't read in these articles at the Big Beef Records site. So I'll just give you some background on the three songs here.

The songs were recorded some time in 1989 at Cro-Magnon studios, engineered by Joe Buben. Gregg did these for submission to Bob Moore's Breathe on the Living LP project. This was a double-LP (with an extra LP of outtakes that contributors received) of music, spoken word, poetry, noise, etc. that Bob compiled and released as the Spring Quarter '89 issue of Wright State University's literary magazine Nexus. Also representing Dayton on that record were THE OXYMORONS, CHRIS POSPISIL, and LAURA AND LARRY ALBRECHT. When I get a better turntable, I'll rip all three discs I have and post it.

Gregg is playing his trusty blue Rickenbacker semi-hollow, which is the only guitar I ever saw him play except for one time at PJ's underground when he played my guitar for an impromptu performance of "Righteous Tune" with Ian and Ben at an OXYMORONS show. That's where the photos came from (I don't have any photos of Gregg playing his Rickenbacker). In the one at the top, that's Gregg in the foreground and Ian Uppstrom in the background (Ian's playing Grog's bass); Ben must be behind the drums. In the other one, Gregg is on the left while Ben (foreground) and Grog (background) are on the right. OXYMORONS used to cover "One of the Boys" by Mott the Hoople, which was a favorite of Gregg's, so I'm guessing that's what we're playing in that photo. These photos were most likely taken in the fall of 1989 (NOTE: I scanned these at 300 dpi, so they'll get a lot bigger if you click on them).

"Dribble Glass" is the one Bob chose for the LP. The lyrics to this song had been published as a poem in the Fall 1988 issue of Nexus.

"Rich Kid Avenue" later appeared on a CD comp called Hydroponic Mascara, vol. 2. I once asked Gregg what he meant by "my tires are painting the pavement blue." He said he had no idea.

"Nineteen" was an UNDERDOGS' song. As far as I know, this version was never released anywhere. This has always been my favorite Gregg Spence song. About a year before Gregg's death, Andy Valeri organized a benefit show for him at the downtown 1470. My old band HEIKE played a set and closed with this song. I believe there's a video tape of that show floating around somewhere.

Speaking of which, I know that Andy, Grog, and especially Tom Carter have tons of video relevant to this period in Dayton music history. Hey guys, ever heard of YouTube? What the fuck?

When Gregg gave Bob the tape of these songs to listen to, I made a copy for myself down at WSU's secondary studio. So I believe this would be second generation from the original reels. I put them on the same cassette that had my master copy of the first OXYMORONS tape, and they've been sitting there ever since.

Track List:

1. Dribble Glass
2. Rich Kid Avenue
3. Nineteen

Download It! (10 MB) (link re-upped 2-1-2013)

Gregg, of course, had dozens (if not hundreds) of other songs he did when he played solo shows around town. Of the few covers he used to do at those shows, I specifically recollect "A New England" by Billy Bragg and "Watching the Detectives" by Elvis Costello (and I'm sure there was some Richard Thompson in there too). No doubt somebody somewhere has at least one of those shows on tape. If it's you, please come forward. I'd love to post it.

You can find an in-progress Gregg Spence discography here.

You can read about the various Gregg Spence benefit shows that took place over the course of 1999 here.

You can view video of Gregg performing "Nineteen" and "Head Above Water" here (RealPlayer required).

You can buy your own Rickenbacker guitar here. No doubt they still carry them in blue...

In 1990, when Chris Rue and I were editing Nexus, we published another Gregg Spence poem entitled "Beat Poetry for Beginners," which is less a poem than an excuse to poke fun at Allen Ginsberg wannabes. Jen Cook (of COLAVISION) and some other characters later took the title of this poem as the name of their band (which never recorded anything and played, as far as I know, only one show -- but I was there, and Gail still has their sticker in her diary). I still have Gregg's typed and signed manuscript of this poem -- will post some time.

take care



Anonymous said...

The band called Beat Poetry for Beginners, from what I remember, was Steve, Keith, Jen, and me. I suggested the title as our band name because I saw the band as being made up of people who liked the idea of being profound, important artists but didn't know how to do any of the work to get you there. (You know, crazy stuff like learning how to play an instrument or write a song.)
We practiced a handful of times in Grog, Jen, and Gail's basement on South Dixie. If you remember us doing a show, I'll believe you, but that is one show more than what I remember us doing.
I don't remember much in the way of music happening, but I do remember having a lot of fun hanging out and calling ourselves a band.
What's not to love about that?

jones() said...

OH! YOU were in BEAT POETRY FOR BEGINNERS? That is priceless...

Yes, I'm sure you did a show at Canal Street Tavern, and for some reason, I vaguely remembered some Friendly's people were in the band, so I'm sure that was it.

But I must've completely forgotten you were in it. But hey, if this blog helps me remember things I didn't even know I'd forgotten, then it's already paid for itself.

And in the next post, I'll return the favor by letting you in on some OXYMORONS information that I'll bet even you didn't know.

take care


The ChickenFish Speaks said...

Yeah, I have some videos of the Oxy's and other various local bands, but you need to have a way to take them off of videocassette for me because that is one thing I lack.

I'll also send you a pick of Beat poetry for Beginners that I found from a practice.

- Grog